‘The enemy within’:

Gore Vidal claims ‘Bush junta’ complicit in 9/11: “America’s most controversial novelist calls for an investigation into whether the Bush administration deliberately allowed the terrorist attacks to happen

…Vidal’s highly controversial 7000 word polemic titled ‘The Enemy Within’ – published in the print edition of The Observer today – argues that what he calls a ‘Bush junta’ used the terrorist attacks as a pretext to enact a pre-existing agenda to invade Afghanistan and crack down on civil liberties at home.” Guardian UK

Love My Country, Change My Country:

Michael Kazin, co-author of America Divided: The Civil War of the 1960s, seeks A Patriotic Left

There’s no need to mouth the Pledge of Allegiance or affix a flag pin to your lapel or handbag. But to rail against patriotic symbols is to wage a losing battle-and one that demeans us and sets us against the overwhelming majority of Americans for no worthwhile moral or political purpose.

Instead, leftists should again claim, without pretense or apology, an honorable place in the long narrative of those who demanded that American ideals apply to all and opposed the efforts of those who tried to reserve them for favored groups. When John Ashcroft denies the right of counsel to a citizen accused of terrorism or a CEO cooks the books to impress Wall Street, they are soiling the flag and ought to be put on the patriotic defensive. Liberals and radicals are the only people in politics who can insist on closing the gap between America as the apotheosis of democratic strivings and the sordid realities of greed and arrogance that often betray it.

There is really no alternative. In daily life, cultural cosmopolitanism is mostly reserved to the rich and famous. Radical environmentalists and anti-IMF crusaders seek to revive the old dream of internationalism in a version indebted more to John Lennon’s “Imagine” than to V. I. Lenin’s Comintern. But three years after bursting into the headlines from the streets of Seattle, that project seems stalled indefinitely in the Sargasso Sea that lies between rhetorical desire and political exigency. Dissent

Hostage negotiation, Russian-style:

Siege survivors ‘suffer poisoning’. CNN: Freed hostages were carried out of the theatre ‘inert and unmoving,’ and have all been hospitalized. Footage of the hostage-takers slain by Russian special forces showed them slumped in their seats in the theatre with bullet holes in their heads, apparently executed after they were rendered unconscious. Russian authorities have so far refused to reveal what gas was pumped into the theatre, even to doctors treating survivors. It is not clear how many of the more than one hundred hostages who died were killed by the Chechen guerrillas and how many succumbed to the gas. WBUR

Pictures from the siege’s end. BBC

CDC Issues New Hand Hygiene Guidelines

“The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new hand hygiene guidelines here Friday that recommend that healthcare facilities across the nation begin to use alcohol-based hand rubs to cut the risk of spreading germs to patients. Related: “So-called antibacterial soaps are no better at killing germs than ordinary soaps, according to a study presented here Thursday at the Infectious Disease Society of America’s annual meeting.” Reuters Health

The spread of germs from hospitalized patient to patient on the hands of caregivers has been deemed the greatest single contribution to the contemporary epidemic of hospital-borne infections.

Missing a hellraiser:

Richard Harris irreplaceable, says Potter producer:

“The producer of the Harry Potter movies on Saturday hailed hell-raising Hollywood legend Richard Harris as “irreplaceable”.

“He will be greatly missed,” David Heyman said of the flamboyant star who died of cancer on Friday at the age of 72.

Harris, twice married, twice bankrupt and a firm believer in living life to the full, was twice nominated for Oscars in a career that spanned 70 movies, including Camelot and Gladiator.

He won a whole new generation of young fans playing Professor Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter movies.” ABC

…and he really did seem to be having fun with the role, my son and I agreed after seeing the first of the films.

In other Potter news, the second film in the series opens next month. Director Chris Columbus lauds the lack of “starry nonsense” from cast members BBC

. Leading actor Daniel Radcliffe, who plays Harry, envies the wizard’s invisibility cloak his character uses in the film — it would be great for slipping free into roock concerts. Reuters

HRT on the Mat:

Doubts Grow About Post-Menopausal Hormone Use

Although the hormones have both good and bad effects — raising the risk for heart attack, breast cancer and blood clots while lowering it for osteoporosis and colon cancer — their net effect is harmful in terms of disease prevention. They still have a role in the treatment of symptoms of menopause. But how large a role is a matter of dispute.

Those were among the conclusions that emerged from a two-day meeting held this week at the National Institutes of Health. The gathering was called to assess the immediate consequences of the hormone study results and talk about what new research may be needed. Washington Post

"Life’ll Kill Ya"

[Warren Zevon]

At one time a long time ago (around the same time as my Jackson Browne phase) I was a Warren Zevon fan. We’re talking first or second album. Now it turns out he’s known, and announced to his fans, for several years that he is dying of lung cancer. This passed me by until Chuck’s comment

that people should catch him on David Letterman on October 30th because it might be their last time. I’ll try, Warren, but in any case fare thee well…

Mentioning him in the same breath as Jackson Browne is ironic because of my favorite JB story. One day I entered an unfamiliar record store and went to browse the Jackson Browne bin, to find that someone had written on the tabbed divider for his section, “Somebody please shoot this guy and put him out of his misery.” I guess you had to be there…